Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

A very long line of voters wait to cast their ballots at the Fairfax County Government Center for the November presidential election on first day of early voting in Virginia in Fairfax, VA on September 18, 2020. Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Virginia Online Registration Portal Left Unworkable—Just Hours Before Deadline—After Cable 'Accidentally Cut'

"Election officials in Virginia have again failed the public," said the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Julia Conley

Civil rights organizations on Tuesday vowed to make sure Virginia residents are able to vote in the November elections after—for the second time in a recent presidential election year—the state's online voter registration portal crashed.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law expressed outrage over reports that a fiber optic cable was severed near the state capital of Richmond, cutting access to online voter registration via the website and in local registrars' offices. 

"This error is particularly astounding given that this same problem occurred at virtually the same time in 2016. It is astonishing that Virginia has not learned from failures of the not-so-distant past."
—Kristen Clarke, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

"Election officials in Virginia have again failed the public," said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee. "The state's online voter registration portal has crashed on the eve of the registration deadline, leaving thousands of eligible people in the dark."

The organization sued the state of Virginia in October 2016 after the state's online voter registration system crashed and malfunctioned, and secured a 36-hour extension of the voter registration deadline—ensuring the right to vote for "tens of thousands of voters," Clarke said in a statement. 

"This error is particularly astounding given that this same problem occurred at virtually the same time in 2016," Clarke said. "It is astonishing that Virginia has not learned from failures of the not-so-distant past."

The Lawyers' Committee told VPM, Richmond's local NPR affiliate, that it plans to sue the state again to secure another voter registration deadline extension. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, the state's registration website was advising residents to print out and complete a paper application and either postmark it or deliver it to a voter registration office by the end of the day Tuesday. 

Clarke asked Virginians who are only able to register online to get in touch with the Lawyers' Committee via its Election Protection hotline. 

Given relentless efforts by the Republican Party to keep Americans from voting this year—including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's restriction allowing only one absentee ballot drop-off location per county, a similar effort in Ohio, and a requirement that absentee ballots in South Carolina include a witness signature—voting rights advocates expressed skepticism on social media regarding local reports that the fiber optic cable was cut "accidentally."   

"The first practical lesson I received in Journalism in Lebanon in 2000, was not to use the word 'accidentally' without enough evidence," tweeted The National correspondent Joyce Karam. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Scientists to BlackRock Vice Chairman: New Fossil Fuel Development 'Incompatible' With 1.5°C

"The only responsible course of action is to do everything in our power to stop fossil fuel expansion and further emissions."

Jessica Corbett ·


Goldman Prize Awarded to Activists Who Showed Nature's 'Amazing Capability to Regenerate'

"While the many challenges before us can feel daunting, and at times make us lose faith, these seven leaders give us a reason for hope and remind us what can be accomplished in the face of adversity."

Julia Conley ·


Faith Leaders Call for Federal Election Monitors in Georgia to Protect Black Voters

"It is imperative that our election this November is monitored to preserve ballot integrity and ensure ballot security."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Inaction Is Bought': Here Are the Receipts on NRA's Purchase of GOP

"The issue is money in politics," said Nina Turner after the nation's latest mass killing of students and teachers. Right-wing lawmakers are "allowing children to die because of the gun lobby."

Kenny Stancil ·


'This Is on You!' Beto Interrupts Abbott Press Conference on Texas Massacre

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke accused Texas' GOP leaders of "doing nothing and offering us nothing" in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo